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Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Length: 1063 words (3 double-spaced pages)
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Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her generous accomplishments the community realizes she is a person who, regardless of her sin, can affect the community in a positive way.

The new Puritan society wanted to punish Hester Prynne horribly so that she would set an example of the consequences the others would receive if they committed a sin.. At first the Puritans took a delight in Hester Prynne's punishment, having thought they cleansed the town, and therefore only leaving a "pure" society. They forced Hester Prynne to stand in front of the town for hours as the crowd tried to break her down with criticism and shaming words. After her release, "the scene was not without a mixture of ...


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...ynne and see that in fact they needed her. And finally she was able to stay, where she wanted to be. Over time the fact that Hester didn't crumble and in fact stood taller despite her exclusion, the Puritan society opened their eyes to see that good can survive even in the heart of a sinner. Despite everything they tried to do, out of their fear of losing their values, individuals would still make mistakes and cause differences in the community. Thus saying that within a community there will always be individuals to test the limits of society.

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